Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sewing a knit dress - Tiramisu!

I decided to join Steph's (from Cake Patterns) Tiramisu Sewalong, because I had the fabric and the pattern and I thought it would help with motivation to sew after the holidays.

What a great experience! The posts on the Sewing Cake website are very helpful and the Flickr group has lots of great pics of the process.

The pattern is a completely different concept in sizing, sewing instructions and fit.

The sizing, devised by Steph is based on a high-bust measurement so i found I bypassed a whole conversation in my head comparing the pattern to others, and comparing my 'size' to some ideal 10,12,14,16. The sewing instructions are very visual and remind me of the Japanese style that I love. Achieving a good fit is built into sewing steps and means that you baste, fit, alter, sew throughout the whole process.

I have a habit of avoiding muslins, because I measure patterns carefully, and sometimes tissue fit, but my main fabric was Liberty of London cotton jersey (from, so this time I didn't take a chance!
The muslin fabric is a viscose jersey which I used before for a Vogue dress and is lighter than my main fabric. I cut the Midriff piece of the pattern longer in the hope that the muslin would be wearable, and it worked.
The muslin was really helpful in relation to sizing. There was way too much room in the shoulders for me - with the shoulder seam ending up a few inches down my back!. I usually have to shorten the bodice in patterns and this was no different. Also the weight of the skirt was going to pull down the dress even more, so I went down a size.



The only alteration I made to the pattern was cutting the front skirt on the fold rather than two pieces to save fabric, as I had just 2 metres of the Liberty.

There are still some lines/wrinkling in the front bodice at the crossover, but it is almost impossible to see because of the print on the fabric.






As the skirt is cut on the bias, the dress needs to be left hang before hemming. It hung for 2 days, and I turned up the hem once, turning up extra where it was hanging more, and basted it. It seem to have worked - the hem is mostly very even.


It's an incredibly comfortable dress to wear, and best of all there's no gaping at the front because of the binding. The Flickr group has lots of great pictures, especially the 'no gaping' shots!






I don't sew much with knits and there seems to be a few reasons for this. It's difficult to access knit fabric in Ireland despite all the beautiful cotton knits, many organic, being produced in Europe.

Knits are mostly not conducive to my usual seam finishing methods, because the seam becomes too heavy for the fabric. So with knits, I have to get over myself! and my need for tidiness on the inside and leave seams exposed inside the dress.

There doesn't seem to be a classification of knit fabrics similar to that of cotton fabrics, which means two similar knits when sewn with the same pattern will produce 2 completely results and fit.

It's been so worthwhile participating in the Tiramisu Sewalong. It has helped me to be more confident in sewing with knit fabric and learning how it behaves. Steph has been a very 'hands on' teacher and very responsive to pictures and queries posted.


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  1. It's a very flattering dress on you! I could imagine you making several versions of this.
    I also feel unhappy about the insides of my knitwear, but I know that it doesn't really matter because knits don't unravel. Still, sometimes I wish I had a serger.

    1. Thanks Karin, there's some great pictures of it made up in different fabric in the Flickr group, I'd love on in red or navy dots. Interesting that you feel the same about the seams inside. I think I just have to get over it ;-)

  2. The dress is fabulous! Perfect fabric choice and an awesome doesn't get much better than that.:)

    1. Cindy, thanks, it really doesn't get much better :-) I don't want to change the needles - so maybe there will be more knit sewing!

  3. aw wow Angela your tiramisu is gorgeous, fab fabric too. I've got pattern but haven't even looked for fabric yet.
    you're right about the different weights and stretches of knit/jersey, i always want to have touched it as what might be ok on a tee might be very not ok on a dress ;-)
    if you're in/near dublin its worth keeping a eye on murphy sheehy stock, they get some great stuff in (in general) and every now and then there's an influx of knits. Have you tried twi either? i only go there with a list in mind so don't particularly know how good knits are...

    1. Louise, thank you! I'll look forward to seeing your dress, it's a quick make, especially as the sizing can be altered so easily. Thanks for the fabric shop recommendations. I get to Dublin once or twice in the year, and have been to Murphy Sheedy, but my recollection is that I got a bit overwhelmed with all the fabric and couldn't choose :-(
      My choices for shops are Hickeys! or my local shop which caters mostly for brides and bridesmaids! So I'm usually online looking for fabric, which, the case of knits can be hit or miss!

  4. oops just saw on sidebar you're in southwest so above not very helpful to you!

    1. That's ok. It's great to have recommendations in Dublin.

  5. This is a great dress. Looks really well on oyu. Ans the review is very detailed and helpful!

    1. Thanks Michal! I'm glad you like it and found it helpful. I learned a lot about knits while sewing it.

  6. Hi Angela. Lovely dress! I missed the sewalong, but I'm about to start my tiramisu. By coincidence I also have a Liberty jersey from Raystitch - their shop is local to me, and I went in meaning to get bamboo knit then decided it would be too hard for a beginner like me, without a serger. Can you share any tips to do with the fabric? Did you use a serger?
    I made a kind of muslin last night, but using old t-shirts of my husband so not a very accurate reflection of the jersey.. and I got the stretch the wrong way round. D'oh. Like I said, pure beginner :-)
    Here's my liberty jersey

    1. I replied by email, but in case you didn't get it, I included details here too -
      Hello Jess,
      Lucky you having Raystitch so close! I don't have a serger, and you will manage fine without one.
      You probably did this, but be sure to wash the jersey as it can shrink a little, and you don't want that to happen when it's all sewn up!
      Steph's post about stitches to use was very helpful to me and I did most of the sewing with with what she calls the Lightening Bolt Stitch - a tiny zig-zag - (details here- )

      When sewing the fabric, I very, very gently stretched it while it was being stitched - maybe practice on scraps first to see how it looks.
      Seams don't always need to be finished when using jersey fabric
      as it usually doesn't unravel, though some people prefer to use a zigzag.

      The pattern is perfect for a beginner, just take each step slowly and if you're not sure of something Steph will probably have
      covered it in the Step by Step Sewalong ( )
      Your fabric is perfect, be sure to post a pic when it's done!
      I can't think of anything else, but if you think of anything else to ask, be sure to do so.

      Kind regards,